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TOLife's top restaurants


sgfrank
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1 eigensinn farm

2 susur

3 splendido

4 senses

5 scaramouche

6 bistro bakery thuet

7 via allegro

8 rain

9 chiado

10 north 44

11 canoe

12 rundles

13 perigee

14 sushi kaji

15 jamie kennedy wine bar

16 lai wah heen

17 didier

18 george

19 il mulino

20 amuse bouche

Personally I asm somehwat surprised that Scaramouche got into the top five. Even though it seems to have enjoyed a resurgence of late, I still feel there are many other Toronto spots I would put ahead of it. Also, I would have liked to see Mildred Pierce and Pangaea in the top 20. Though I love JK wine bar dearly, and I have had an enjoyable meal at george, I would rank my two aforementioned picks above these two - JK wine bar can sometimes lack punch in its dishes, and I found george to be trying a bit too hard on the fusion/pomo front.

Any other thoughs?

Simon

Edited by sgfrank (log)
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was the list positioned as "restaurants that have been good" or "restaurants that will be good" (sorry, my issue hasn't arrived yet)? I'm surprised to see that Avalon isn't up there, he's always liked it in the past, and I'm not sure it makes sense to ignore them just because they're going away (note that I'm not claiming that they should or shouldn't be there, I haven't been).

actually, I think it'd be interesting to hear people here list their top 20. Also, I think the lists would be more valuable if they were derived highly subjectively instead of trying to be objective...for me it'd go something like:

1. Terra

2. Susur

3. Perigee

4. Harbour Sixty

5. Starfish

6. JK Wine Bar

7. Barberian's

as far as their list goes, I'm actually really surprised Terra isn't up, I know it holds a special place for me but on an objective level I would still have voted it on somewhere. Rundles on the other hand I found pretty boring. I think Perigee got underrated but I know it doesn't get as much excitement (yet?) outside the foodie crowd.

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Well, although some of what comes out of the TO star is worthwhile, most of it isnt anything to go by.

To have senses, in a top 20, let alone #4 is absolutely ridiculous.

For Bistro Bakery Thuet to be in #6 position is laughable, even more so is the fact that Lei Wah Heen, Sushi Kaji, and Il Mulino (All top in their respective genre) are BEHIND JK Wine Bar..(Ok, Sushi Kaji one above) but still...insane.

My top 10:

1, Splendido

2, eigensinn farm

3, Scaramouche

4, Il Mulino

5, Lai Wah Heen

6, Perigee

7, Sushi Kaji

8, Romania Mia

9, Canoe

10, Susur (Even though I cant stand the guy)

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It must be pretty tough to have to come up with a top 20 restaurants for such a publication.

I don't envy Mr. Chatto in the slightest.

So many of these places are SO drastically different... how does one possibly compare and contrast and then come up with a final countdown.

Rating them must be a close to impossible job... especially if one doesn't really want to offend anyone (too much).

I found Avalon's exclusion a little odd I must admit... and I was sure that he had been airbrushed out of the The Establishment photo!!! Oh well, if you live by the sword...

"nil illigitimum carborundum"

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For Bistro Bakery Thuet to be in #6 position is laughable, even more so is the fact that Lei Wah Heen, Sushi Kaji, and Il Mulino (All top in their respective genre) are BEHIND JK Wine Bar..(Ok, Sushi Kaji one above) but still...insane.

So many of these places are SO drastically different... how does one possibly compare and contrast and then come up with a final countdown.

see here's the thing...it might be easy to say that Kaji is better than Hiro and so on but the hard part is, as Nondoctor is saying, trying to say where the tops of the respective genres stand next to each other. It's like comparing apples and exuberance! I got to put steak up twice 'cause I really, really like it, but Chatto doesn't get that benefit, he's trying to write pseudo-objectively.

(oh, and I can understand JK Wine Bar being up. It's another Kaji, Lai Wah Heen, etc....in that it's a different category altogether. The food might or might not be similar to (say) Thuet or Canoe but the experience is totally different. I think however that it does compare to Lee, for example, which I like it better than...which is why it makes my list.)

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As long as Toronto Life, likely our most widely read source of restaurant reviews, continues out of incompetence, kindness, or murkier motives to give overly generous reviews and refuses to mention the instances of silly food, inedible food, nondescript food, and incompetent service that reviewers must have encountered as I have at most of the places listed above, there will be little motivation on the part of restaurants to improve and we will remain with the above too long and for the most part inappropriate list of so-called best resaurants.

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As long as Toronto Life, likely our most widely read source of restaurant reviews, continues out of incompetence, kindness, or murkier motives to give overly generous reviews and refuses to mention the instances of silly food, inedible food, nondescript food, and incompetent service that reviewers must have encountered as I have at most of the places listed above, there will be little motivation on the part of restaurants to improve and we will remain with the above too long and for the most part inappropriate list of so-called best resaurants.

do you perhaps have suggestions for restaurants better than the list of so-called best restaurants, or are we forced to narrow it down based on slowly eliminating the ones you think _aren't_ best?

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As long as Toronto Life, likely our most widely read source of restaurant reviews, continues out of incompetence, kindness, or murkier motives to give overly generous reviews and refuses to mention the instances of silly food, inedible food, nondescript food, and incompetent service that reviewers must have encountered as I have at most of the places listed above, there will be little motivation on the part of restaurants to improve and we will remain with the above too long and for the most part inappropriate list of so-called best resaurants.

do you perhaps have suggestions for restaurants better than the list of so-called best restaurants, or are we forced to narrow it down based on slowly eliminating the ones you think _aren't_ best?

Of course, our favourite restaurants are personal opinion, but I think brab makes a very valid point here. That being, that Toronto Life giving overly generous reviews, or any other publication doing the same, or particular reviewers playing favourites allows for public misconception, and in SOME cases, the continuation of mediocrity or worse. I personally do not agree with a number of places on the list, or the placement of some others, it seems other people have issues with the list as well. Why? Are we happy to settle for "that's the best we can hope for" in Toronto? Would a larger number of critics and reviews change the rankings, add motivation to the restaurants themselves, increase satisfied customers from here and afar? And just for fun, how would the Toronto Life reviews stack up to reviews of the same places by critics from Montreal, NYC, LA, NO, Vancouver and Chicago? That would be interesting!

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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As long as Toronto Life, likely our most widely read source of restaurant reviews, continues out of incompetence, kindness, or murkier motives to give overly generous reviews and refuses to mention the instances of silly food, inedible food, nondescript food, and incompetent service that reviewers must have encountered as I have at most of the places listed above, there will be little motivation on the part of restaurants to improve and we will remain with the above too long and for the most part inappropriate list of so-called best resaurants.

do you perhaps have suggestions for restaurants better than the list of so-called best restaurants, or are we forced to narrow it down based on slowly eliminating the ones you think _aren't_ best?

I don't have any better to offer in Toronto.

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I don't have any better to offer in Toronto.

Where do you generally enjoy eating? To what standard are you comparing Toronto restaurants?

Do you feel Toronto Life is overly-generous across the board - in which case it seems to be a valid enough resource regardless, since the comparitive ratings of different restaurants are often what are most useful. Or, rather, do you feel that Toronto Life has certain 'favourites' that seem to be placed up in the stratosphere again and again irrespective of quality?

Simon

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I spend a lot of time in Montreal where in my opinion the level of professionalism in the overall management of restaurants is far greater than in Toronto. Consistent with my original point this professionalism and expertise is matched by the local reviewers such as Voir and Lesley Chesterman in the Gazette.

Yes, TL is far too generous and although Toronto restaurants vary greatly in quality, in my opinion the TL verbal descriptions and star awards bear little relation to the variability. The "best" restaurants are different in that they attempt a better presentation and are more expensive but generally are not in fact much better than the others.

Edited by brab (log)
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I don't have any better to offer in Toronto.

then it seems that you agree that Chatto is right on the money about these being the top 20 restaurants in Toronto. Not everyone eats in Montreal regularly and those of us who are "forced" to dine here want to know about the options locally available.

as for "overly generous", every journalist (along with every other person on the planet) has their own style of expression. Chatto's appears to be one of highly flowery language (he once described a steak knife as "hefty enough to fell a charging rhino"). If you're is going to rely on someone's reviews (whether music, videogames, or food), then the only thing that makes sense is getting to know the reviewer's style, so you can understand what they are _really saying_.

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Well, not to disagree or agree with Chatto's list; but, if it were your list, what else would you include (or exclude).

Yes, some of you have already done that. Thanks in advance.

I will say that while I don't entirely agree with Chatto's list, I don't eat out often enough at the higher level/price point to disagree with it (entirely) either. I suspect that if we were to increase the list to thirty or forty, most of our faves would be included. (Am I wrong about that)? Is Chatto's list too centered on the nice silverware, spendy wine list, pressed tablecloth etc. side of things?

I suspect that if we each drew up a list of the top 30 restos in town, the lists would not be too dissimilar (??? I could be wrong here) . And that there'd be lots of overlap with the TOLife list. (Also, I could be quite wrong here.)

I guess I'm saying that while there's room for disagreement, the list of top restaurants is perhaps 30 (maybe forty) deep.

This is not to say that the places that wouldn't make such a list are not worthy of your patronage. I've said it before and I'll say it again, Torontonians are lucky to have the breadth of options they have. This is more about the best of the best.

Cheers,

Geoff Ruby

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  • 3 weeks later...

Agree or disagree with the list, how many of you guys complaining the list have visited ALL those 20 restaurants at least once or more than once in the past year and the ones you wish on the list a few times? I certainly don't go out to those expensive places more than 10 times a year total. Or have any of you been to Lai-wah-heen for dinner last year (rather than dimsum or not at all) (I haven't)?

- M

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To choose a place for a nice dinner next Tuesday, I sent the list to my wife. I added the websites for her to check the menus.

2 susur, susur.com

3 splendido, splendido.ca

4 senses, senses.ca

5 scaramouche, scaramoucherestaurant.com

6 bistro bakery thuet, thuet.ca

7 via allegro, viaallegroristorante.com

8 rain, rainlounge.ca

9 chiado, chiadorestaurant.ca

10 north 44, north44restaurant.com

11 canoe, canoerestaurant.com

13 perigee, perigeerestaurant.com

14 sushi kaji, sushikaji.com

15 jamie kennedy wine bar, www.jkkitchens.com

16 lai wah heen, metropolitan.com/lwh/

17 didier, restaurantdidier.com

18 george, georgeonqueen.com

19 il mulino, ilmulinorestaurant.com

20 amuse-bouche, amuseboucherestaurant.com

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Thanks, salomonrobyn! That will be a great resource for a number of people I'm sure.

Barbara Laidlaw aka "Jake"

Good friends help you move, real friends help you move bodies.

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